When you find a book as special as The Once and Future Witches, you scream about it from the rooftops. That's exactly what I've been doing since I first read this incredible book in 2021. Not only is it one of the most masterful examples of lyrical prose I've ever read, but it's also the perfect vehicle for folk songs, fairytales, fables, and all the special ways words are used to mold and shape us as young humans. I will never, ever shut up about this book. Read on to find out why it's my favorite book of all time. ⬇️
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- witchy historical fantasy
- powerful sister story
- highly feminist
- slow-paced & character-driven
- witchy level 🐈⬛🐈⬛🐈⬛🐈⬛🐈⬛/5
- lgbtqia representation
Published October 13, 2020.
In 1893, there's no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters--James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna--join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women's movement into the witch's movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There's no such thing as witches. But there will be.
Go back in time with me. It's October 19, 2021. It’s 1:30 am. I’ve just finished what might be the best book I’ve ever read. Tears stream down my face. My heart isn’t broken though. Instead, it's been made whole by the love and care of the story told. I looked into the faces of these characters and saw my own (and that of the many women I know and love). I saw their heartbreak, their pain, their prowess, their skill, their heart, and, most of all, their will. Nothing matters more than the will of a woman. And if every woman is a witch, then so much the same. After all, “a witch is merely a woman who needs more than she has” and magic is simply “the space between what you have and what you need.”
I was raised by a house witch. She made things happen that shouldn’t. Put food on the table when there was none—made homes out of thrifted treasure. Soothed broken hearts with a simple spell. She taught me her words and ways. And for a while, I’d forgotten. But like all good tales, what has been lost can be found. And I’ve found it with this book.
The Once and Future Witches is for anyone who knows what it’s like to want more than they have and is ready to claw their way to get it. I cannot say enough good things about this book. Sure, I love historical fiction with a witchy, fantasy slant, which this certainly is. And I love character-driven stories with strong female MCs. And a little witchy goodness is never unwanted. But it’s more than that.
The Once and Future Witches is beautiful. The prose and poetry of Harrow’s work envelop you, pulling you into the world of New Salem & Avalon. You fall in love alongside Bella and Cleo, and you feel the overwhelming rush of emotion when Agnes first holds Eve. You want to cry out in protest alongside Juniper, to hell with this town anyway.
My god, I love this book.
The Once and Future Witches is the best book I've ever read. Plain and simple. If you don't mind a slow and purposeful novel that will whisper truths in your ear, then you need to read this book.